Random cloud changes

October 21st, 2016

For a while I already watched some other business struggling with workflow inefficiency by using cloud services that randomly (like monthly) change some user interface, options etc. and thus waste hours and hours of the time of workers to actually get their work done.

While we protect our data and investment by not using cloud services for anything productive (exception like Google Adwords, …) today we hit a similar issue. I automated invoice generation from our online store PayPal email notifications. Some days ago on October the 15th PayPal deviced out of the blue sky that it would probably be nice if they modernized their email templates.

Well, great for them, no so for our nicely script automated invoice generation. But even for the users:

Before the PayPal notifications where: Content-Type: multipart/alternative; with a Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8 and a Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8 and about 20 kB in size.

Unix veterans could still nicely read the text/plain part in pine, mutt or wherever. The new emails did away with the text/plain part, and only send a Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8 and the designers even blew that up to now consume a whooping 90kB.

Worst of all as of today they still send us a mix of old a new template based emails. Obviously awesome for some reliable processing, …

So this is what the silicon valley companies call progress? :-/

Update: Most of the size increase is actually mobile optimization CSS. WTF optimization is that? I rather have a smaller, plain text email than a 80kB CSS monster when I’m on the go :-/

Can the tech industry please stop messing with everything and thereby actually making things worse? :-/!

Samplerate: 192000Hz

October 4th, 2016

All the FLAC and high bitrate hi-fi testing? Right now I’m listening to a 192000Hz FLAC:

# play *flac

Alanis Morissette - 01. Eight Easy Steps.flac:

File Size: 106M Bit Rate: 4.92M
Encoding: FLAC Info: Purchased from 7digital.com
Channels: 2 @ 24-bit Track: 1 of 10
Samplerate: 192000Hz Album: So-Called Chaos
Replaygain: off Artist: Alanis Morissette
Duration: 00:02:52.37 Title: Eight Easy Steps

In:100% 00:02:52.37 [00:00:00.00] Out:33.1M [ | ] Hd:1.7 Clip:0

on a last-gen Retina MacBook Pro 15″ under (you guessed it from the quote above, right?) (T2) Linux.
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24 bit flac, 96/192 kHz audio

October 4th, 2016

I’m currently researching the case for higher audio fidelity. Lossless FLAC, 24bit, more than 44.1kHz you name it. The open source Xiph.org has some comments on that, too.

And when I then see online stores selling Melissa Etheridge, McNichol’s Arena, Boulder, Colorado, October 1st, 1988 (Remastered, Live On Broadcasting) as 24-bit/44.1kHz FLAC I really wonder.

1988, …, how was that recorded? On a Revox/Studer reel-to-reel, or what? At least it does not cost as much than the up-to-20 bucks they usually ask for more recent albums in 24/96, or /192 …

But seriously, analog noise and damp frequency response from 1988 I do not need in 24-bit, … ;-)

Or another example Phil Collins, Hello, I Must Be Going from 1982, … ??? 2016 remastered in 24-bit/96kHz - 96 kHz analog noise floor or what?!?

This legacy PC BIOS USB boot problems

September 30th, 2016

Believe it or not in 2016 I came across updating some aging x86 hardware, and it did not want to boot from our usual so2stick.sh T2 USB pen drive disk images. After some research and debugging it turned out syslinux has the answer:

On these BIOSes, you’re generally stuck booting them in USB-ZIP mode.

A standard zipdrive (both the 100 MB and the 250 MB varieties) have a “geometry” of 64 heads, 32 sectors, and are partitioned devices with a single partition 4 (unlike most other media of this type which uses partition 1.) The 100 MB variety has 96 cylinders, and the 250 MB variety has 239 cylinders;

And this stupid hack indeed works, sigh. PC BIOS programmers, a very special kind of bread, … :-/

Dell XPS 15 and Linux - a developer’s dream

September 16th, 2016

This is one of the few and longer review articles I write on this site, for two reasons. First of all I am pretty dissatisfied with Apple’s laptops (and workstations) for a decade, and second Dell provided me with XPS 15 to try for a few weeks.

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Screen on a serial port

September 16th, 2016

Although I use and develop on Linux for a very, very, very long time it never had the idea to use screen as a terminal emulator on a serial port for an embedded board.

Turs out that is very well support and just works:

screen /dev/ttyUSB0 115200

Innovation under Tim Cook

September 2nd, 2016

Meanwhile at Apple HQ:

Tim: Hm, our year over year sales are down, again. How can we innovate to get this up again?

… hm, head-scratch, nose poke, silence in the audience, …

Tim: ok lets also take away the headphone jack so at least every iPhone user also needs to get a new one and third party companies pay us more Lightning port chip royalties.

Not really what we ask for in regards to better battery life or updates Mac line, … not to say the display word, …

Welcome to the brave new Apple, … run by bean counters, … :-/

Getting tired of permanent MacBook battery failure

August 26th, 2016

So this stupidly smart Apple MacBook batteries set a permanent failure bit once they are simply discharged by sitting on a shelf for a month or two. With this permanent failure bit the controller will not charge them again, even when the cells are brand new and otherwise perfectly fine. Another day I need to try sending a reset sequence or otherwise rewriting some flash cells, sigh:

Some notes for now:

Battery Firmware Hacking

MacBook battery (Rom) cycle reset

15″ Retina MacBook Pro Late 2013 vs. Dell XPS

August 2nd, 2016

People who know me certainly know by now how disappointed and frustrated I became over the last years with Apple’s MacBook lineup and their hardware refresh. Or better, the lack of it, …

The other month Dell was so kind to send a Dell XPS 15 to me to give it a try. While I’m still writing on a full review I wanted to share a first performance figure compiling the Linux 4.7 kernel from an external USB3 SSD, both with 16GB RAM.

rMacBookPro late-2013 w/ i7-4850HQ CPU @ 2.30GHz: 20m48s, 145m40s
Dell XPS 15 w/  i7-6700HQ CPU @ 2.60GHz: 13m32s, 92m14s

The first time is total wall clock time, the second is total CPU time due parallelism as shown by time(2).

Yep, that is some whooping 35% faster

And a contributing factor for Apple’s MacBook loosing so much is also the notoriously underdesigned thermal system, fans, and heatsink and such. As the Linux kernel points out quite some thermal throttling on the Apple machine, but not on the Dell:

CPU5: Core temperature above threshold, cpu clock throttled (total events = 1)
CPU1: Core temperature above threshold, cpu clock throttled (total events = 1)
CPU3: Package temperature above threshold, cpu clock throttled (total events = 1)
CPU2: Package temperature above threshold, cpu clock throttled (total events = 1)
CPU4: Package temperature above threshold, cpu clock throttled (total events = 1)
CPU6: Package temperature above threshold, cpu clock throttled (total events = 1)
CPU7: Package temperature above threshold, cpu clock throttled (total events = 1)
CPU0: Package temperature above threshold, cpu clock throttled (total events = 1)
CPU1: Package temperature above threshold, cpu clock throttled (total events = 1)
mce: [Hardware Error]: Machine check events logged
CPU5: Package temperature above threshold, cpu clock throttled (total events = 1)
mce: [Hardware Error]: Machine check events logged

Amazon BuyVIP

July 20th, 2016

Recently Amazon started to spam my email account regarding their http://de.buyvip.com rebranding / “microsite”. I really wonder about Amazon’s benefits in this case, why not simply run this from their main site, … Lure those people back who are not satisfied with the Amazon experience by using another brand? Or some special mass promotion sales contracts?